Here’s How Five Different Film Scanning Techniques Compare

There’s more than one way to scanning film at home so it’s worth comparing different techniques and see which best gets the job done.

If you develop your film at home, you might as well be doing your own film scanning with a flatbed scanner. It’s a crucial part of every film photographer’s workflow so it’s important to know how to do it properly. If you’ve yet to figure that out, here’s a helpful video comparing different film scanning techniques and which one works best.

Epson scanners are among the most popular choices for film scanning at home, but there’s actually several ways to work with it. In his latest video, Nick Carver asks, “What’s the best technique for scanning film on the Epson Perfection flatbed film scanner?” If you’ve only just started scanning your film, you may be surprised that there’s more to it than just using the negative holder that your scanner came with. In his latest video, Nick Carver shows us how to do five film scanning techniques using his Epson Perfection V750 Pro scanner.

In summary, here are the five techniques Carver demonstrated:

  1. Using the good old Epson film scanner tray (a V850 tray, which is better than the V750’s)
  2. Dry mount to a piece of ground glass

  3. Fluid Mount with the Epson fluid mount station

  4. Fluid Mount directly to the scanner glass

  5. Inverted Fluid Mount using the Variable Height Mounting Station

If you want to know how he prepped the files, you can pause the video at 5:06. He also made a comparison of all the techniques to find out which of them produced the best results in terms of sharpness, grain, chromatic aberrations, and dynamic range. His findings are interesting.

First, he found that the Inverted Fluid Mount technique using the Variable Height Mounting Station produced the best and sharpest results for both slide films and color negative films. He also noted an unexpected surprise; all the other techniques produced color fringing except the Inverted Fluid Mount. The next best result came from the V850 film scanner tray, while the fluid mount directly on the scanner glass produced the least sharp images.

In conclusion, Carver found that the V850 scanner tray provides good enough image results for websites and social media or making small prints. But if you need the best quality scans for big prints and such, the Variable Height Mounting Station would be a worthwhile investment.

Check out Nick Carver’s YouTube channel for more of his photography tips and tricks.

Screenshot image from the video by Nick Carver